As of Sunday, three former Center Grove High School athletes are within close proximity of one another despite being two states away.
Belmont University men’s basketball player Michael Benkert will soon begin his second year at the NCAA Division I school in Nashville, Tennessee.
Two members of Center Grove’s Class of 2016, Lauren Rau and Cameron Tidd, will be a short distance away in the same city, best known for the Grand Ole Opry.
Rau, a 5-foot-5 point guard, is playing women’s basketball at Lipscomb University. Tidd, a defensive tackle who helped lead Center Grove to the Class 6A state football championship in November, plays for Vanderbilt University.
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Vanderbilt Stadium, where Tidd will play, is four miles north of Allen Arena, where Rau will play, and a little more than a mile south of the Curb Event Center, where Benkert will play.
“I love it down here. It’s kind of a combination of everything,” said Benkert, the Trojans’ No. 5 all-time point producer (1,177) who was redshirted this past season at Belmont and will be eligible to play this winter.
“Belmont, Lipscomb and Vanderbilt are all no more than five miles from each other,” Benkert said. “Belmont and Lipscomb are literally on the same road.
“I’ll definitely try to catch some Vandy football games and see as many of Lauren’s games as I can.”
All three former Center Grove athletes are currently in Nashville.
Rau started all four seasons for the Trojans girls basketball program. She was part of the Daily Journal’s All-County Team as a senior after leading Center Grove in scoring (14 points per game), assists (4.4) and steals (2).
Rau arrived at Lipscomb on May 29 to start preseason conditioning with her Bison teammates. She is also taking two classes this summer.
Lipscomb, a Div. I program, struggled during the 2015-16 women’s basketball season. However, the Bison return four of their top seven scorers and welcome a talented freshman class.
“I love Nashville, and I like my teammates a lot,” said Rau, who leaves with her new teammates July 29 for a week-long mission trip to Managua, Nicaragua.
“It’s hard adjusting to the pace. It’s a faster pace and everyone plays at the level you do,” Rau said. “Cameron and I are really good friends.
“It’s kind of comforting knowing someone down here and knowing they’re going through some of the same things you are.”
Rau also has family close by.
Her stepbrother, former Center Grove student-athlete Jordan Luallen, is the strength and conditioning coach at Franklin Road Academy, a high school in Nashville.
Tidd won his second consecutive state discus championship Saturday at Indiana University’s Robert C. Haugh Track & Field Complex.
He left for Vanderbilt early the next morning.
Like any 6-4, 275-pound athlete working along the line of scrimmage, Tidd has already pinpointed some of his new city’s better eating establishments.
“Nashville is a beautiful city and always has things for you to do,” Tidd said. “Some of the best restaurants are down here, so there is never a shortage of good food.
“Also, many of these good restaurants are within walking distance, so it’s easy to get to them.”
Name;College;Graduated from CG;Sports at CG
Michael Benkert;Belmont University;2015;Basketball
Lauren Rau;Lipscomb University;2016;Basketball/track
Cameron Tidd;Vanderbilt University;2016;Football/track